The pride children experience when they see a completed clay project is fantastic – they have accomplished something unique! Pottery classes can improve self-esteem because it’s easy to create something amazing, and creating that amazing thing fills us with a great sense of achievement.
Perfection is not a goal in our pottery classes – its all about creation. Clay is easy to handle and very forgiving – a mistake can easily be rubbed off, smoothed over or taken off – while we’re working on wet clay nothing is permanent. Clay also allows a child to learn to repair mistakes and therefore not be afraid to make them. Making mistakes is essential for self improvement but can be difficult or even an obstacle for some children. The forgiving quality of clay and the ability to fix mistakes gives a child a sense of control over their projects and self esteem grows as they realise they can create something they have imagined.
A brilliant example of this is when we were decorating the clay boxes we’d made. One of my students realised he’d not left enough space on the box sides to do what he had intended so he quickly came up with a solution using the lid that was unique and clever – he felt very proud of what he’d done.
All art forms are important for children to experience, yet it does seem that the functional and durable nature of a child’s finished piece adds special value – it’s not just something to be admired but rather it’s something special to be used every day.